For the new downtown municipal office building, Minneapolis leaders want gleaming glass walls that send a welcoming, transparent message to visitors. What they don’t want is a death trap for birds.
The 200,000 square feet of glass on the Minneapolis Public Service Building, going up at 501 4th Av. S., may contain “frits,” ceramic patterns in the glass that birds will see so they don’t fly into it. It could also be covered by a UV film, although the city will not decide on those methods or how many square feet to cover until December.
The city is demolishing a parking ramp on the site. Construction of the roughly $160 million building is slated to begin in September and take about two years.
Nearby U.S. Bank Stadium’s threat to birds has triggered protests and a failed effort by conservationists to persuade the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority to spend the money to make the glass safe for birds. In May, the Minnesota Vikings and the state announced they would spend $300,000 to study bird mortality at the stadium.
The city began talking to the Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis and other bird conservation groups about its new building in June.
“We have lots of interested parties when we build a building,” said Mark Ruff, the city’s CFO. “So bird-safe glass is always a part of the conversation.”
The city asked artists to apply by Aug. 3 to create frit designs that could cover a section of the building and make it safe for birds. Three finalists will receive $1,000 to develop drafts. The winner will receive about $30,000 to work with the city; however, it is not obligated to use the design.
The city will hold a community meeting at 6 p.m. Tueday in the Mill City Museum about all public art planned for the new building. The city has allocated $2 million for possible projects.
Along with bird-safe glass, the city will also turn off the building’s lights during migration periods to reduce collisions. While the city said bird-safe glass will be a component, a decision on how much to use is months away and must be balanced with other issues such as handicap accessibility, environmental sustainability and energy sufficiency, Ruff said.